As a developer, I’m sure your schedule is jam packed. If you work for a company, then chances are you’re busy programing from the moment you get there until the moment you leave. If you work for yourself, then you’re probably spending all of your time completing programming work, interfacing with clients and hunting down new projects.
How are you possibly going to squeeze any extra time out of the day to grow your skills and evolve your career?
Well, we’ve got you covered. Below we dive into a few strategies you can use to carve a little extra time out of your day to make room for education and growth. After all, your career can only grow as much as you do.
Why Education Should Be a Priority
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The quickest way for your career to stagnate is to stop learning. Your career as a developer depends on how much you know, and not just book knowledge either, but your ability to apply what you’ve learned to real-world problems.
Without creating a little extra time to learn every single day your career is going to stall. Or, you’ll be hoping and praying to get a promotion, instead of taking charge of your career. When you’re a beginner or intermediate developer, you’ll usually only be good at developing on one kind of language, or building a certain kind of app.
To grow beyond this, you need to be able to recognize holes in your knowledge and understanding, so you can fill them in and then move past them into an advanced development role. Advanced developers are fluent in multiple languages, have expertise in a certain process or method and have an overarching understanding of how every code and framework fits together to create the desired result.
Below we highlight a few ways you can create more time in the day to make room for additional learning.
How to Add More Hours to Your Day
Photo credit: Josh Felise
A lot of our habits don’t end up serving us in the long run. Are you the kind of person who hits snooze a few times, and barely has enough time to dress and eat breakfast before heading out the door? By letting your time control you, you end up being at the mercy of the clock.
Instead of operating on conditioned responses that seem to sap every minute of your time, we’re going to outline a few different ways you can inject learning into your day-today workday.
1. Take on Projects Above Your Current Level
The only way to expand your skills and current set of knowledge is to take on projects that are above your current skill level. Sure, you might not know exactly what to do, or you might be afraid of ruining the project; but often, it’s the biggest challenges that cause us to rapidly grow our skills. The added pressure of proving ourselves can help us learn and apply things at a rapid rate.
This doesn’t mean you should sign yourself up for a project that you have no idea how to do, but if something comes across your desk that is slightly outside of your comfort zone, you should absolutely say yes to the project.
2. Create Smaller Side Projects
If you’d prefer to learn on your own time, then you can’t underestimate the value of creating a small side project. If you’re trying to pick up a new language, learn how to design a database or utilize existing cloud technologies to deploy an app, you can design a smaller project to help you learn these things.
When creating a side project you need to define a goal you want to achieve that’ll actually keep you motivated. If you already have a full-time job, then you don’t want to give yourself another “job” to pursue during your downtime. Make it something fun, something that you’re passionate about and wouldn’t mind putting the additional hours into.
Learning is more fun when you don’t have to force yourself to do it, and are instead inspired to write additional lines of code every day.
3. An Extra Hour is All You Need
Creating a little extra time in your life to grow your skills doesn’t mean you have to pull all nighters, or give up your weekends. You’re welcome to invest as much time as you want. The more time you spend growing your skills, the faster your career will progress. Just make sure you’re learning the right things.
If your schedule is already packed, then you don’t have to stress about making a bunch of additional time. An hour of focused time is all you need to start. Think of it as the minimum effective dose. If you’re learning the right things, and have created a project that you’re actually inspired by, then finding an hour of additional time is going to be easy. We can all wake up an hour earlier in the morning, or cut down on TV watching or other hobbies.
Growing your development skills is the only way to ensure you actually reach your career goals. By taking projects that are outside your area of comfort, and creating exciting side projects that push you, you’ll begin to see your career evolve.
What ways have you found to grow your skills throughout the workday? Share in the comments below.